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Influence of a Former Mining Area in the Heavy Metals Concentrations in Blood of Free-Living Mediterranean Pond Turtles (Mauremys leprosa)

Abstract

The objective of this study was to assess metal exposure in the Mediterranean Pond Turtle (Mauremys leprosa) inhabiting a watercourse in an ancient mining district polluted by different metals (“Rambla de Las Moreras”, southeastern Spain) and included in the Ramsar Convention. For this purpose, mercury (Hg), lead (Pb), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn) and cadmium (Cd) were analysed in blood samples from 42 M. leprosa healthy adults (27 males and 13 females). The highest median concentrations were found for Zn, followed by Cu, Pb, Hg and Cd (366, 33, 9, 0.83 and 0.14 µg/dL, respectively). Although the literature regarding toxic metals in freshwater turtles is relatively scarce, Pb may cause deleterious effects in our population. In general, males presented higher levels than females, which could be due to maternal transfer during egg formation. The significant correlations between Cu–Cd and Cu–Hg suggest the implication of an efficient mechanism of detoxification involving metallothioneins.

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Acknowledgements

This study has been supported by NOVEDAR-Consolider Project CSD00C-07-22204, Confederación Hidrográfica del Segura, and Fundación SENECA (MASCA’2014 Project 19481/pi/14). Silvia Espín was in part funded by the Academy of Finland (Project Number 265859) and by Fundación SENECA (Project 20031/SF/16). We are especially grateful to ANSE for the inestimable collaboration in the collection of samples, especially to J. Sánchez, M. Ferrández, P.López and JF Martínez. Thanks to M.Yelo and S. Fernández for the support in metal analyses.

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Martínez-López, E., Gómez-Ramírez, P., Espín, S. et al. Influence of a Former Mining Area in the Heavy Metals Concentrations in Blood of Free-Living Mediterranean Pond Turtles (Mauremys leprosa). Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 99, 167–172 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00128-017-2122-6

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Keywords

  • Mauremys leprosa
  • Turtles
  • Blood
  • Heavy metals
  • Mining area